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Remodeling and Home Design

What started as shipping pallets become out door furniture!

Oct 14, 2015 | Reuse Ideas

When building there are a lot of items delivered on shipping pallets, some of the pallets are in great shape, while others look like they been around the world. The great thing is when you get pallets they are made with strong wood, that can easily be reused. Below is what a typical shipping pallet looks like (we already started the demo, but you get the idea)....

We made two projects with the pallets, the first was an outdoor dining table. This was real simple. We replaced some of the wood that was broken, with wood from other pallets we didn't need. Then used 4 x 4 for the legs.

We then sanded the wood down a bit using a palm sander and 120 grit paper. The top was painted with an exterior latex paint, and the legs were stained with an exterior stain with a cedar tint. The spacing between the boards is ideal for an outdoor table because it lets the water run through.

With the other pallets we made a hanging swing.

Depending on what you are planning on making, some deconstruction of the pallets may be needed. Using a crow bar and hammer you can take some of the wood off as needed. For seating in a swing you want 2' per person to sit, this swing is about 4' wide, comfortable for 2 people. Home Depot, sells heavy duty chain that they will cut to length, each strand is rated for 400lbs.

A little paint and voila! We used a piece of Trex decking across the top, that isn't needed but matched the style of the rest of the furniture we made for Shift Vacation Rentals in Portland. www.shiftvacationrentals.com



Feb 7, 2015 | Texture

My niece calls the sculptural wood backdrop for our stove, our wood ladder. The goal while we were building this new family vacation home, was to add some texture, and visual interest to the room. 


How a 2 bedroom house became a 7 bedroom vacation rental.....as featured on Houzz!

Jun 2, 2014 | Design Inspiration

Houzz, wrote an excellent article about our work on Shift Vacation Rentals in Portland Oregon. Read on here....


What nice doors and hardware can do.......

May 9, 2014 | Remodeling

An aspect of a remodel that isn't often discussed is doors and hardware.....or perhaps it sits back stage to other items that play a larger role. On our own house we had hollow core, unstable, doors, with that vinyl type coating over them. They also had brass hardware that wasn't solid and stable feeling, here is a photo of the old doors and hardware.....I had wanted to change them out for years, since I first purchased our house.

Finally the day came, when I just made it happen, we worked with Western Pacific for our new solid core 5 panel doors. Clear Douglas Fir was what we opted for, as opposed to painting a wood door. We stained the door with Vermont Natural Coatings. We love this finish which is made from whey, a by-product of the dairy industry, specifically of cheese making. It flows great, is durable, and has no smell! Here is a link to their site:

http://www.vermontnaturalcoatings.com/our-products/polywhey-natural-furniture-finish/ In Portland Green Depot carries this finish: http://www.greendepot.com/greendepot/

Now it's on to the hardware. You know when you shake someone's hand and its a hard, dependable, sturdy handshake, and you think that's solid! That is how I want my door handles to feel. Knobs and handles are like jewelry they can totally change an outfit. We went with Emtek handles: http://emtek.com/ A high quality, great designed line of hardware. We wanted to blend our modern aesthetic with our 100 year old house. This is what we went with:

The black finish next to the Fir is our favorite combination. Modern and classic at the same time. National Builders Hardware in Portland carries this line. http://www.nbhco.com/


A refreshing remodel achieved while keeping the fixtures in the same location.

Mar 1, 2014 | Bathroom Remodels

Bold, beautiful and refreshing......

When our friends called us to remodel their bathroom, this is what we began with......

When we met they explained they wanted to update the room, without breaking the bank. Storage was a top priority, a double sink, and a clean fresh look. They wanted the bathroom to relate to the rest of their early 1900's home, and accommodate a family of four. 

In order to stay within budget, we left the fixtures in the same area adding a second sink and hand held shower. We also kept the original cast iron tub and resurfaced it making it look like new. This saved on costs, but also kept a beautiful original feature to relate with the rest of the home.

We used an Ann Sacks glass tile to brighten up the space and give it a vibrant look. A hand held shower was added which allowed the family to bathe their two children easily. The two soap niches were installed for storage of shampoos, so the tub is free of clutter.

The old vanity had a lot of unused space on either side of it that we captured when creating the custom fir vanity. The cabinet style and wood tone also relate to our clients beautiful kitchen remodel they did a few years prior.

One of the most innovative solution we did was to add an electrical outlet to the interior of the drawer so items like hair dryers and curling irons could be plugged in for quick and easy use, but out of the way to reduce clutter.

The floor is a low maintenance porcelain tile which was also used as the base board for a modern look that is easy to clean and doesn't need to be sealed. A fir storage cabinet was made for over the toilet to accommodate towels and toilet paper.


European Inspiration December 2013

Dec 27, 2013 | Design Inspiration Being in Europe always enlightens me. Their use of space, is so refined as everything is so much smaller you really need to use every inch perfectly. Here are some photos of bits of ingenuity from Switzerland and The Netherlands. Dutch wall chair in an Amsterdam Hotel. That is Klaas, me, and his Mom playing on the chair. I love this tulip chair found in the square outside of the train station in Aarau, Switzerland. When closed they rain rolls off the outside, keeping the seat nice and dry. Klaas sitting on the tulip chair. I think these would be perfect for Portland, don't you guys? Sidewalk marks which are thick so blind people can walk in between the lines, Switzerland. A perfect lazy susan cabinet for small kitchens, actually this is better design for all kitchens, big or small. There is no door that gets in your way. Cool city lights in The Netherlands, the light shines and the reflector shield spreads beautiful drops of light on the patio below. Chess board and a checker board with cool benches behind them. You need to bring your own pieces to play. Many, most, almost all Dutch houses have totally symmetrical windows. 2 of everything, the idea comes from Dutch designer, Jan de Bouvrie. Many houses also have a name, so cute!

The Larger Impact Your Space Has On You

Aug 26, 2013 | Remodeling

My Dad used to walk into my room when I was a teenager and say, “What’s the matter, something must be terribly wrong!”.  “Ohhh Dad your right,” I would reply, and on and on I went telling him of the current drama.

Then there would be other times he would come into the room, look around, and comment on how things must be going great. I always thought he was a mind reader he was so clear in his diagnosis. Years later I asked him how he always knew so well how I was doing, he replied that the state of my bedroom gave him all the insight he needed into my life.  If my bedroom was a mess, then my life was. If things were in their place and orderly, then so was I.

I take that same concept with me as I work with people- the state that your current space is in has an impact on your life. Of course this is distilled, but when thinking about this concept I thought I would share a few more design elements that can help one feel better in their space.

1. Organization:
Clearing out old stuff, recycling items, taking them to goodwill, or if it calls for it, throwing it in the trash, is the first step we advise.
Take a rainy Saturday and clean things out- really clean them out, take everything out of the room and before putting it back in assess should it be in there, the trash, goodwill or basement?
Creative storage is a great way to feel good in a space. We make a lot of these vertical storage units, as they hold a great deal of things and use space in an efficient way.

2. Light:
The more natural light you can get in a room the better. Windows, skylights, and doors add them whenever possible. If you need some privacy try sheer curtains, so light can still filter in, or satin etched glass on windows.
After natural light, multiple light sources is next. One overhead light in the middle of the room is typical for many houses, but if you can add additional light sources for task lighting, ambient lighting, and artistic lighting that really creates a great mood. I love playing with lighting and creating light streams.

3. Color:
Ohhh I know it’s a challenging one! The place I recommend starting is by describing how you want to feel in the room.  For instance in a bedroom, do you want to feel awake and ready for the day? Or do you prefer your room to be a sanctuary for quiet and retreat? There is no “right” way, but a bright vibrant color would be used for the first example whereas a soothing tone would be better for the second.




Aug 27, 2012 | Remodeling

On April 2nd 2012 we purchased a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house on Alberta Street, a funky vibrant retail street in Portland, Oregon. Our goal was to create boutique, short term rentals in the commercial hub which we adore. Creating a rental that was as unique, sustainable, and as creative as Portland is, was & is the objective.

The first question was what to do with the house……we wanted to yield the maximum sleeping space out of the current square footage. This meant we had to make the decision, if we should dig out the basement, or jack up the house, so that we could access a comfortable head height for a second rental in the basement.

We set out by meeting with various sub contractors who raise houses, dig out basements, pour retaining walls, foundation wall, etc. After getting initial estimates, that information showed that digging out the house would cost roughly $25,000 and jacking it up would be $40,000. The pros of going down was that it would be less expensive. The pros of going up would mean more of a garden view feeling, less chance of moisture problems, and more overall light. Was that worth $15,000?

In the end we jacked the house up….why?? When we set out to sign the contracts with the subs a series of questions for digging the basement came to the table and ultimately their original estimates where no longer valid as they really didn’t include the full scope of work. Although financially frustrating we felt that going up was the ultimately the best so we went forward with raising the house.

How does lifting a house work? Well first you have to strip the area clean- take out the electrical, water, furnace, (we took out the old brick chimney chase and saved the brick to use as a wall in the finished living room). Then we had Ram Jack of Oregon come in and set the stage for the lift. They brought in rail road ties, steel I-beams, and a hydrolic lift for the project.

Ram Jack of Oregon - 866.472.6522



Inspiration from Bend Oregon

Apr 10, 2012 | Design Inspiration

We spent 5 days of blissful time in Bend Oregon and were blown away with all that was going on in SE Scott. The Workhouse is Bend’s newest art/design collective. It is a multi use work/retail space for art, fashion, and home design, in Bend’s historic Old Iron Works District at 50 SE Scott.


There are dozens of local artists inside of the this fantastic old building. You can walk around and watch people making their art, allowing for a wonderful community connection. Cari Dolyniuk and Stuart Breidenstein are the folks with the vision. They each have studios, produce amazing art, and are passionate about supporting the local art scene.


To give you a taste of some of the art, Karen Eland, from Coffee Creations paints elegant pictures using beer and coffee. It’s not to be missed!


We strolled next door to the CUBE (which stands for creative urban business environment) and again we were in awe with the creativity and execution. (www.facebook.com/CUBE.BEND) Shipping containers adorn the space which hosts a variety of designers and architects. Cement Elegance, the counters I am a big fan of, has an incredible display of their beautiful, durable and environmental counters.


Cement Elegance’s inter-grated sinks are eye candy for those who drool over good design. (www.cementelegance.com)

The trip wouldn’t be complete without a coffee and treat from The Sparrow Bakery. (www.thesparrowbakery.com/home/) The innovation, fresh ingredients and warm atmosphere make it perfect, then add to that the strong support of the Make Local Habit movement and you are hooked!


The Nature Inspired Portland Kitchen

Mar 26, 2012 | Kitchen Renovation

This NE Portland kitchen was showing its years with dinged cabinets and counters. It lacked storage space and ample counter top work surfaces.

The home owners called in architect & friend, Kristin Pickett, to help with the new layout. She designed a kitchen that maximized storage by taking the cabinets to the ceiling. She also created a new counter area where the owners could have a built-in garbage and recycling station.

The kitchen was inspired by nature the Marmoleum floors represent the forest, the Cement Elegance counters called in the stone, the YOLO Colorhouse paint stands for water, and the custom wood cabinets by Kitchens and More signaled the wood. I loved having these peaceful grounding images to guide the remodel.

The back splash tile came from Surface, and is a wonderful nod to the past with the subway tile format, but its translates to a more modern look with the 4? x 12? tile size. We added the 1? glass tile as the jewelry and the color matches with the detail color of the light fixtures.

Back splash tile detail
We wish this wonderful family many years of good food, laughter and family time in their new kitchen!

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